Big Jim waltzed into the Sweetbriar Rose. He had an announcement to make. Deputy Paul was missing. He was going to the Blackridge Woods; he stole a rifle, and some provisions from the department store. (Big Jim had let Deputy Linda out of jail himself -- and once again told her, flat-out, that she maybe wasn't fit to keep the peace.) The two barflies offered to join the search party. Big Jim introduced himself officially to Barbie. He noticed his busted knuckles. He asked if he was a bounty hunter. He told Barbie that Deputy Paul was a man not to be trifled with -- marine, two tours in Iraq, one silver star. He asked Barbie if he was in or out, and out didn't seem like an option.
You know who's enjoying Dome Life even more than Big Jim? The kids. The local teenaged population spent the evening at a local skateboarding park. (You can see the CBS showing on Under the Dome sometimes; I didn't know kids hung out in skateboard parks after 1993.) The kids are running low on energy; some of them are already forgetting what it was like to text. Joe has a generator, though. And Norrie, the out-of-town girl, really wanted to charge her phone. And she wants a place to stay. Joe's parents aren't around? Sounds perfect.
Norrie and Joe got to know each other. Joe gave his life story: Dad drives a rig, Mom was in Westlake when the Dome came down. Norrie told an extensive lie about her father the musician. They were getting close. Then Joe's friend Ben showed up with a couple girls who really wanted to charge up. Very soon, every teenager in town realized that Joe had power and no parents. A party started. Somebody was using one of those crappy Microsoft tablets that seem to only exist in brief product-placement sequences on broadcast TV shows. Ben told Joe: "People have The Simpsons Movie going in the living room. They totally saw the Dome coming!" (ASIDE: Fans know this is an in-joke -- although the Simpsons movie predates Stephen King's Under the Dome, King maintains that he conceived the Dome idea decades ago. It's all in good fun. They're all just riffing on Kandor, anyhow. #BottledCity. END OF ASIDE.)
Joe was feeling nervous. But Ben reminded him that this was an opportunity. "You've become the most popular guy in town!" he explained. Unfortunately, right about then is when the former most popular guy in town walked in. The guy looked like a sociopathic clone of Tom Cruise in All The Right Moves and he reminded Joe that he used to date Angie. The guy immediately set up shop by the power conduit, charging five bucks for five minutes. Norrie stood up and laid down some knowledge on him. "You know about the Sherman Anti-Trust act?" she said. "What you're doing is illegal. Monopolies are illegal." They almost came to blows. Right then the power went off: The generator gave out, with all the electrical cords connected to it. The douchebag promised he'd see Norrie again.
Elsewhere in Domeville, Junior set off for the old cement factory. Julia followed him; she could smell a story, or she just wanted to cozy up to the son of the most powerful man in town. (As bad as Junior is, it's striking how everyone in this episode seemed to be using him for their own ends. The kid might be crazy, but it takes a village to raise a crazy child.) Deep underground, just west of the Mines of Moria, Junior found a way out...and ran straight into the Dome. He punched it a couple dozen times, until the Dome blew up his flashlight battery.
Julie had a heart-to-heart chat with Junior. He was freaking out. They were trapped down there, he said. A whole lifetime of emotional issues were coming out in the caves. "A man stands up," he said. "A man doesn't screw up." Julie told him her origin story. She was covering the mayor's race in Chicago. The guy in the lead was a real machine politician -- let's call him Bomb Remanuel. One of her sources showed her documents that indicated he'd been bribed; the documents weren't verified, but Julia ran with them; her lie surfaced, the guy got re-elected, and she was fired. (Basically, she pulled a Rather. Nobody crosses Bomb Remanuel!)
Julia was confessing something to Junior. Junior told Julia something, too. That guy Barbie attacked him, said Junior. "People think he's this hero, but he's a psychopath. What's he really doing here?" The whole Junior thread is interesting, but I worry it's treading water a bit. As much as they've done to make the kid not seem like a complete bad guy -- and as Under the Dome readers know, Book-Junior makes TV-Junior look like Cuba Gooding Junior -- he's still the guy who locked his girlfriend up in a nuclear bunker. Barbie did something bad, too, but the show hasn't really made you believe that he's a bad guy -- he's pulled the old "swoop in to save people's lives" trick too often. It feels a bit like Under the Dome wants to make its main characters morally ambiguous, but not too ambiguous.
NEXT: Butch and Sundance